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Archive for the ‘computers’ Category

LEGO is such a timeless toy and the boys are big fans of it. They regularly create various machines and creatures, breaking it apart, recreating, and improving their designs. When I  heard about LEGO robotics, I thought it would be something that would definitely interest the boys and would introduce an exciting new dimension to the their LEGO playing.

They went for a trial Junior Robotics Engineers class at Wonderswork, a place that offers courses for children on robotics and inventions. Wonderswork seeks to nurture creative and inventive thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, and cross-cultural communication in children. The LEGO robotics programs, in particular, aim to educate and equip children from young with essential skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

At each Junior Robotics Engineers class, kids are given a project to complete. This project involves following instructions on a computer to build something, then using simple graphical programming to make the object perform a particular action. A graphical format is adopted so that it is not too complex for children, but yet still teaches them the logic and thinking behind programming.

While I was confident that Asher would be able to follow what was going on, I was a little worried that Ellery would be distracted and unable to keep up. I was also concerned about whether they boys would have problems using a computer because, if you can believe it, the boys have never used a computer! They’ve watched things on a computer, but not used one.

So I was happy to see that Enzo, the founder of Wonderswork, and the other teachers were extremely patient with both of them, and especially so with Ellery. They took the time to explain how to use the computer (!) and the computer programme, they guided Ellery on how to determine if what he was doing was correct and let him figure out whether he was on the right track by posing questions and letting him draw his own conclusions.

Tapping on the arrows to move to the instructions for the next step

Tapping on the arrows to move to the instructions for the next step

I would say the teachers functioned more as facilitators. Children are guided through the project and assisted when the teachers saw they needed help, or the kids asked for help. I thought that was a good approach. It is in the doing that kids learn best, and they need space to figure things out for themselves. I found out from Enzo that this is also how they approach the Young Inventors class as well. In that class, kids are given a challenge and have to create their own solutions to solve the problem.

It was also good to see that the other boys who were there for their regular class had very good rapport with the teachers. The kids and teachers were talking and joking with one another, clearly enjoying themselves.

I was surprised at how Ellery remained focused on his task throughout. He has a tendency to be easily distracted when disinterested in something, but that was clearly not the case here. By the end of the session he had built a rocking horse, and with some guidance had programmed the horse to rock back and forth. He was happily tapping on ‘Enter’ and ‘Esc’ to start and stop the horse over and over again. He was also able to explain to me how the horse could rock – that the electricity came from the computer and powered the motor, that the motor moved one a long block that was connected to the base of the horse, and that in turn moved the horse.

Ellery's rocking horse

Ellery’s rocking horse

Enter! Esc! Enter! Esc!

Enter! Esc! Enter! Esc!

For Asher, he was delighted to have been given a Star Wars walker to build. It even had a sensor that made the walker stop when it reached the edge of a table. Enzo also showed him how the sensor could be triggered to do different things. Besides stopping at the edge of a table, it could be programmed to play a sound when something came near. Asher’s favourite was when the walker made laser shooting sounds whenever he put his hand in front of it :) He was quite amazed by the sensor and mentioned it to me several times after we left the class, and was one of the first things he told Jon.

The Star Wars walker

The Star Wars walker

Watching his walker move

Watching his walker move and waiting for it to reach the edge of the table

The Junior Robotics Engineers class was fascinating and the boys loved it! I’d definitely recommend the robotics class, especially if your kid – girl or boy – is interested in LEGO.

Wonderswork conducts its robotics and invention classes weekly. There are also two holiday camps coming up – a Space Inventors camp and a Master Inventor camp. Five sessions of each camp are being conducted until the middle of December, but spaces are limited so you should sign up quickly if interested! You can click on the links above for more details.

Space Invention Lego Robotics Invention School Holiday Camp Nov - Dec 2014

Camp 1: 17-19 Nov (over)
Camp 2: 24-26 Nov
Camp 3: 1-3 Dec
Camp 4: 8-10 Dec
Camp 5: 15-17 Dec
All camps from 10am-230pm

Master Inventors Lego Robotics  School Holiday Children Camp Nov - Dec 2014

Camp 1: 20-21 Nov (over)
Camp 2: 27-28 Nov
Camp 3: 4-5 Dec
Camp 4: 11-12 Dec
Camp 5: 18-19 Dec
All camps from 10am-230pm

Wonderswork also offers a by appointment one-time drop off class that’s held on weekends. This is great for parents who want to meaningfully engage their kids while they take a much needed coffee break :) You can find out more about the regular classes and other programs here. If you are interested to sign up, they are currently running a promotion on the program fees.

Junior Robotics Engineer (for 5yrs and above) – $380 (Usual $500)
Young Robotics Engineer (for 8yrs and above) – $460 (Usual $550)
Young Inventors Level 1 (for 5yrs and above) – $380 (Usual $500)

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Kids at a Robotics workshop (Photo courtesy of Wonderswork)

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The kids who attended the last space camp (Photo courtesy of Wonderswork)

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Testing their space inventions (Photos courtesy of Wonderswork)

I’ve signed Asher up for the Space Inventors camp and he’s extremely excited! I’m excited to see what he’ll get to do too! Ellery is unfortunately too young to attend, but I might bring him back for some of the other workshops instead.

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Wonderswork offered a complimentary trial class for the boys. All opinions are my own.
You can call Wonderswork at 6333 4088 to arrange for a trial class if your kids are interested.

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Why? Fie!

I’ve been out of action partly because we went on holiday, mostly because of technology woes yet again!

Our home WiFi suddenly became faulty. It was fine one moment, and suddenly it’s not. Strangely it shows the signal at full strength, but no data is transacted. Annoying! I’ve been relying on my netbook and WiFi to blog ever since my PC died on me too many months ago (even before Alyssa was born!).

Thankfully it’s now fixed and the timing couldn’t be better. With the WiFi gone my netbook is useless to me, but now I’ve got back my PC and a (hopefully) stable LAN connection again.

As I’ve gone so long without using my PC, I’ve got months and months of photos which have only been backed up by Dropbox. As it busted its limit just before our holiday, I can’t backup more pictures on it anymore. So, now I’m going to slowly download everything onto my PC (especially the holiday photos as they are completely not backed up), copy everything onto a portable harddisk drive as insurance, and print some pictures out.

A long and arduous process. Sigh.

Praying that this is the end of my technology troubles for a long time to come.

Anyway, regarding my data back-up plan, I had initially thought of acquiring a network-attached storage (NAS) device, but besides it being expensive and troublesome to configure, I learned that it also has about a 3-year lifespan – the same as for portable harddisk drives. I decided to go use portable harddisk drives as back-up because they cost so much less than NAS. At a fraction of the price, I can replace them every 2.5-3 years for the next 15-18 years, and it’ll be the cost of one NAS that has to be replaced after 3 years anyway. Quite a no-brainer. The techy dude said NAS is more for commercial use. Since the bulk of my stuff are family photos, I really don’t need to get NAS.

Ok. So I’m off to back-up photos. It’ll be a good long while…

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Kill me now.

I H A T E C O M P U T E R S ! ! !

Lets see if it retaliates before I get a chance to post this. I finally found an opportunity to hook up everything and get the computer running. AND THEN, I find it hangs every 20 mins or so.Why why why??

Why do all computers hate me so??!?!

*bish* *BISH* *SmaSH*

One thing good though, my photos are all still there!

Now, if only the computer will stay alive long enough for me to download the rest and burn them onto disks!!!

 

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Hiya, first it was the internet problem, then recently it was a virus attack! So I’d been spending several days trying to get rid of it. So I’m even further behind in blogging! Oh well :)

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All wired up!

I must say, I loved being wired up. The past few months we’ve been using wireless connection, which has been erratic, unreliable, and sometimes just plain non-existent.

Blogging can be a pain when connection suddenly dies as you are uploading photos and you have to start the whole process all over again.

But now! Ah ha! The maintenance people have come and fixed up the Lasting Access to the Net connection, and the More Order Dominating Every Moment device! Sooo..I have faster and more reliable connection now! Yippi!

So much for the snazzy wireless connection. Sometimes I just sit there waiting for the connection to be “good” (else I can’t do anything on the internet). Much like waiting for a crush to call you. Unreliable. Give me a husband any day! ;)

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